HHS Official Defends Health Reform Law’s Long-Term Care Program
The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports program, a long-term care initiative in the federal health reform law, will not launch until it is financially sustainable, HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee said during a House hearing on the program, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Millman, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/17).
Greenlee's statements came after three House members on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the program (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 3/17).
"We are committing to making reforms to the program so that we can hit the financial targets," Greenlee said, adding that federal officials will not implement the program without those changes (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/17).
Details of CLASS Program
The CLASS program is intended to relieve pressure on Medicaid, which currently supports 40% of long-term care spending, by covering volunteers using premiums alone, rather than federal funds, National Journal reports. However, opponents say the program would allow too many high-risk people to enter, which could drain funding within a decade (McCarthy, National Journal, 3/17). The Congressional Budget Office estimated that by 2030 benefits paid out of the program would exceed incoming premium payments (CQ HealthBeat, 3/17).
Greenlee did not specify how the department planned to readjust the program to make it pay for itself, but she said federal officials considered altering earning requirements, indexing premiums to benefits claimed, and closing loopholes (National Journal, 3/17).
HHS is seeking $120 million for the program for fiscal year 2012 ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/17).
Greenlee defended funding request for the program. She said that $94 million of that money would be used for public outreach and education to ensure the program gets enough enrollment to remain sustainable (CQ HealthBeat, 3/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.